ning how she could best inform them of their mistake, and
overwhelm them with her scorn. She prepared several crush-
ing little speeches, and held them in reserve for use ; but the
officers never came to Gardiston House, and of course she
never went to the camp â€” no, nor so much as looked that way ;
so there was no good opportunity for delivering them. One
night, however, the officers did come to Gardiston House â€”
not only the officers, but all the men ; and Miss Duke was
very glad to see them.
It happened in this way. The unhappy State had fallen
into the hands of double-faced, conscienceless whites, who
used the newly enfranchised blacks as tools for their evil pur-
poses. These leaders were sometimes emigrant Northemers,
sometimes ren^^de Southerners, but always rascals. In the
present case they had inflamed their ignorant followers to
riotous proceeding^ in the city, and the poor blacks, fanc3ring
that the year of jubilee had come, when each man was to
have a plantation, naturally b^^ by ejecting the resident
OLD GARDISTON. 117
owners before the gp-and division of spoils. At least this was
their idea. During the previous year, when the armies were
still marching through the land, they had gone out now and
then in a motiveless sort of way and burned the fine planta-
tion residences near the city ; and now, chance having brought
Gardiston to their minds, out they came, inconsequent and
reasonless as ever, to bum Gardiston. But they did not know
the United States troops were there.
There was a siege of ten minutes, two or three volleys
from the soldiers, and then a disorderly retreat ; one or two
wounded were left on the battle-field (Miss Duke's flower-
garden), and the dining-room windows were broken. Beyond
this there was no slaughter, and the victors drew off then*
forces in good order to the camp, leaving the ofiicers to re-
ceive the thanks of the household â€” Cousin Copeland, envel-
oped in a mammoth dressing-gown that had belonged to his
grandfather, and Gardis, looking distractingly pretty in a has-
tily donned short skirt and a little white sadc (she had no
dressing-gown), with her brown hair waving over her shoul-
ders, and her cheeks scarlet from excitement. Roger Saxton
fell into love on the spot : hitherto he had only hovered, as it
were, on the border.
** Had you any idea she was so exquisitely beautiful ? " he
exclaimed, as they left the old house in the gray light of
" Miss Duke is not exquisitely beautiful ; she is not even
beautiful," replied the slow-voiced Newell. "She has the
true Southern colorless, or rather cream-colored, complexion,
and her features are quite irregular."
" Colorless I I never saw more beautiful coloring in my
life than she had to-night," exclaimed Saxton.
" To-night, yes ; I grant that. But it took a good-sized
riot to bring it to the surface," replied the impassive captain.
A gruard was placed around the house at night and (nckets
sent down the road for some time after this occurrence. Gar-
dis, a prey to conflicting feelings, deserted her usual haunts
u8 OLD GARDJSTON.
and shut herself up in her own room, thinking, thinking what
she ought to do. In the mean time, beyond a formal note of
inquiry delivered daily by a wooden-faced son of Mars, the
two officers made no effort toward a further acquaintance ;
the lieutenant was on fire to attempt it, but the captain held
him b^ck. ** It is her place to make the advances now," he
said. It was ; and Gardis knew it.
One morning she emei^ed from her retreat, and with a
decided step sought Cousin Copeland in his study. The little
man had been disquieted by the night attack ; it had come to
him vaguely- once or twice since then that periiaps there
might be other things tcKdo in the world besides copying
family documents ; but the nebula â€” ^it was not even a definite
thought â€” ^had faded, and now he was at work again with
more ardor than ever.
" Cousin Copeland," said Gardis, appearing at the door of
the study, " I have decided at last to yield to your wishes, and
â€” ^and invite the officers to dinner."
" By all means," said Cousin Copeland, putting down his
pen and waving his hands with a hearty little air of acquies-
cence â€” " by all means." It was not until long afterward that
he remembered he had never expressed any wish upon the
subject whatever. But it suited Gardis to imagine that he
had done so ; so she imagined it.
" We have little to work with," continued the little mis-
tress of the house ; " but Dinah is an excellent cook, and â€”
and â€” O cousin, I do not wish to do it ; I can not bear the
mere thought of it ; but oh ! we must, we must." Tears
stood in her eyes as she concluded.
" They are going soon," suggested Cousin Copeland, hesi-
tatingly, biting the end of his quill.
" That is the very reason. They are going soon, and we
have done nothing to acknowledge their aid, their courtesy â€”
we Gardistons, both of us. They have saved our home, per-
haps our lives ; and we â€”we let them go without a word I
O cousin, it must not be. Something we niust do ; noblesse
OLD GARDISTON, ug
oblige! I have thought and thought, and really there is no-
thing but this : we must invite them to dinner/' said Miss
" I â€” I always liked little dinners/' said Cousin Copeland,
in a gentle, assenting murmur.
Thus it happened that the officers received two formal
little notes with the compliments of Miss Gardiston Duke in-
closed, and an invitation to dinner. ** Hurrah ! " cried Saxton.
" At last ! "
The day appointed was at the end of the next week;
Gardis had decided that that would be more ceremonious.
" And they are to understand," she said proudly, " that it is
a mere dinner of ceremony, and not of friendship."
" Certainly," said Cousin Copeland.
Old Dinah was delighted. Gardis brought out some of
the half-year rent money^ and a dinner was planned, of few
dishes truly, but each would be a marvel of good cooking,
as the old family servants of the South used to cook when
time was nothing to them. It is not much to them now ; but
they have heard that it ought to be, and that troubles the per-
fection of their pie-crust. There was a little wine left in the
wineHXX>m â€” a queer little recess like a secret chamber ; and
there was always the crocodile china and the few pieces of
cut glass. The four forks would be enough, and Gardis
would take no jelly, so that the spoons would serve also ; in
fact, the dinner was planned to accommodate the silver. So
far, so good. But now as to dress ; here the poor little mis-
tress was sadly pinched. She knew this ; but she hoped to
make use of a certain well-worn changeable silk that had be-
longed to Miss Maigaretta, in hue a dull green and purple.
But, alas! upon inspection she discovered that the faithful
garment had given way at last, after years of patient service,
and now there was nothing left but mildew and shreds. The
invitation had been formally accepted ; the dinner was in course
of preparation : what should she do ? She had absolutely no-
thing, poor child, save the two faded old lawns which she
120 OLD GARDISTON,
wore ordinarily, and the one shabby woolen dress for cooler
weather. " If they were anything but what they are," she
said to herself, after she had again and again turned over the
contents of her three bureau drawers, "I would wear my
every-day dress without a moment's thought or trouble. But
I will not allow these men, belonging to the despot army of
the North, these aliens forced upon us by a strong hand and
a hard fate, to smile at the shabby attire of a Southern lady/'
She crossed the hall to Miss Margaretta's closed room :
she would search every comer ; possibly there was something
she did not at the moment recall. But, alas ! only too well
did she know the contents of the closet and the chest of draw-
ers, the chest of drawers and the closet; had she not been
familiar with every fold and hue from her earliest childhood ?
Was there nothing else ? There was the cedar chamber, a
little cedar cupboard in the wall, where Miss Mai^garetta kept
several stately old satin bonnets, elaborate structures of a past
age. Mechanically Gardis mounted the steps^ and opened
the little door half-way up the wall. The bonnets were there,
and with them several packages ; these she took down and
opened. Among various useless relics of finery appeared, at
last, one whole dress ; narrow-skirted, short, with a scantily
fashioned waist, it was still a complete robe of its kind, in
color a delicate blue, the material clinging and soft like Can-
ton crape. Folded with the dress were blue kid slippers and
a silk belt with a broad buckle. The package bore a label
with this inscription, " The gown within belonged to my
respected mother, Pamela Gardiston," in the handwriting of
Miss Margaretta ; and Gardis remembered that she had seen
the blue skirt once, long ago, in her childhood. But Miss
Margaretta allowed no pr3ring, and her niece had been trained
to ask permission always before entering her apartment, and
to refrain from touching anything, unless asked to do so while
there. Now the poverty-stricken little hostess carried the
relics carefully across to her own room, and, locking the door,
attired herself, and anxiously surveyed the effect. The old-
OLD GARDISTON. m
fashioned gown left her shoulders and arms bare, the broad
belt could not lengthen the short waist, and the skirt hardly
covered her ankles. " I can wear my old muslin cape, but
my arms will have to show, and my feet too," she thought,
with nervous distress. The creased blue kid slippers were
full of little holes and somewhat mildewed, but the girl
mended them bravely ; she said to herself that she need only
walk down to the dining-room and back ; and, besides, the
rooms would not be brightly lighted. If she had had any-
thing to work with, even so much as one yard of nuiterial, she
would have made over the old gown ; but she had absolutely
nothing, and so she determined to overcome her necessities
by sheer force of will.
''How do I kx>k, cousin?" she said, appearing at the
study-door on the afternoon of the fatal day. See spoke ner-
vou^, and yet proudly, as though defying criticism. But
Cousin Copeland had no thought of criticism.
" My childr" he said, with pleased surprise, " you look
charming. I am very glad you have a new gown, dear, very
"Men are all alike," thought Gardis exultingly. "The
others will think it is new also."
Cousin Copeland possessed but one suit of clothes; con-
sequently he had not been able to honor the occasion by a
change of costume ; but he wore a ruffled shirt and a flower
in his buttonhole, and his countenance was sedately illumined
by the thought of the festal board below. He was not at
work, but merely dabbling a little on the outer edgesâ€”mak-
ing flourishes at the ends of the chapters, numbering pages,
and so forth. Gardis had gone to the drawing-room ; she
longed to see herself from head to foot, but, with the excep-
tion of the glasses in two old pier-tables, there was no large
mirror save the gauze-veiled one in the drawing-room.
Should she do it? Eve listened to the tempter, and fell.
Likewise Gardis. A scissors, a chair, a snip, and lo ! it was
done. There she was, a little figure in a quaint blue gown.
122 OLD GARDISTON.
the thick muslin cape hiding the neckÂ» but the dimpled arms
bare almost to the shoulder, since the sleeve was but a narrow
puff ; the brown hair of this little image was braided around
the head like a coronet ; the wistful face was colorless and
sad ; in truth, there seemed to be tears in the brown eyes.
** I will not cry," said Gardis, jumping down from her chair,
" but I do look odd ; there is no doubt of that." Then she
remembered that she should not have jumped, on account of
the slippers, and looked anxiously down ; but the kid still
held its place over the little feet, and, going to the piano, the
young mistress of the manor began playing a gay little love-
song, as if to defy her own sadness. Before it was finished,
old Pompey, his every-day attire made majestic by a laige,
. stifily starched collar, announced the guests, and the solem-
Everything moved smoothly, however. Cousin Copeland's
conversation was in its most flowing vein, the simple little
dinner was well cooked and served, Pompey was statuesque,
and the two guests agreeable. They remained at the table
some time, according to the old Gardiston custom, and then,
the ends of wax-candles having been lighted in the drawing-
room, coffee was served there in the crocodile cups, and Miss
Duke sang one or two songs. Soon after the officers took
leave. Captain Newell bowed as he said farewell, but Roger
Saxton, younger and more impulsive, extended his hand.
Miss Duke made a stately courtesy, with downcast eyes, as
though she had not observed it ; but by her hdghtened color
the elder guest suspected the truth, and smiled inwardly at
the proud little reservation. " Th&*hand of Douglas is his
own," he said to himself.
The dreaded dinner was over, and the girl had judged
correctly : the two visitors had no suspicion of the antiquity
of the blue gown.
" Did you ever see such a sweet little picture, from the
pink rose in the hair down to the blue slipper ! " said Saxton
" She looked well," replied Newell ; " but as for cordiality â€” "
" 111 win that yet. I like her all the better for her little
ways," said the lieutenant. " I suppose it is only natural that
Southern girls should cherish bitterness against us ; although,
of course, she is far too young to have lost a lover in the war
â€” far too young."
" Which is a comfort," said Newell dryly.
" A great comfort, old man. Don't he bearish, now, but
just wait a while and see."
** Precisely what I intend to do," said Newell.
In the mean time Gardis, in the privacy of her own room,
was making a solemn funeral pyre on the hearth, composed
of the blue gown, the slippers, and the pink rose, and watch-
ing the flame as it did its Work. " So perish also the enemies
of my country I " she said to herself. (She did not mean ex-
actly that they should be burned on funeral pyres, but merely
consigned them on this, as on all occasions, to a general per-
dition.) The old dress was but a rag, and the slippers were
worthless ; but, had they been new and costly, she would have
done the same. Had they not been desecrated ? Let them
It was, of course, proper that the guests should call at
Gardiston House within a day or two ; and Roger Saxton, ig-
noring the coldness of his reception, came again and again.
He even sought out Cousin Copeland in his study, and won
the heart of the old bachelor by listening a whde morning to
extracts from the documents. Gardis found that her reserve
was of no avail against this bold young soldier, who followed
her into all her little retreats, and paid no attention to her
stinging little speeches. Emboldened and also angered by
what she deemed his callousness, she every day grew more
and more open in her tone, until you might have said that
she, as a unit, poured out upon his head the whole bitterness
of the South. Saxton made no answer until the time came
for the camp to break up, the soldiers being ordered back to
the city. Then he came to see her one afternoon, and sat for
some time in silence ; the conversation of the little mistress
was the same as usual.
** I forgive this, and all the bitter things you have said to
me, Gardis," he remaiiced abruptly.
" Forgive I And by what right, sirâ€”"
" Only this : I love you, dear." And then he poured out
all the tide of his young ardor, and laid his heart and his
life at her feet.
But the young girl, drawing her slight figure up to its full
height, dismissed him with haughty composure. She no
longer spoke angrily, but simply said, " That you, a Northern-
er and a soldier, should presume to ask for the hand of a
Southern lady, shows, sir, that you have not the least com-
prehension of us or of our country." Then she made him a
courtesy and left the room. The transformation was com-
plete ; it was no longer the hot-tempered girl flashing out in
biting little speeches, but the woman uttering the belief of
her life. Saxton rode off into town that same night, dejected
Captain Newell took his leave a day later in a different
fashion ; he told Miss Duke that he would leave a guard on
the premises if she wished it.
" I do not think it will be necessary," answered the lady.
" Nor do I ; indeed, I feel sure that there will be no fur-
ther trouble, for we have placed the whole district under mili-
tary rule since the last disturbance. But I thought possibly
you might feel timid."
** I am not timid. Captain Newell."
The grave captain stroked his mustache to conceal a
smile, and then, as he rose to go, he said : *' Miss Duke, I
wish to say to you one thing. You know nothing of us, of
course, but I trust you will accept my word when I say
that Mr. Saxton is of good family, that he is well educated,
and that he is heir to a fair fortune. What he is personally
you have seen for yourselfâ€” a frank, kind-hearted, manly
" Did you come here to plead his cause ? " said the girl
" No ; I came here to offer you a g^ard, Miss Duke, for
the protection of your property. But at the siune time I
thought it only my duty to make you aware of the real value
of the gift laid at your feet,"
** How did you know â€” " began Gardis.
" Roger tells me everything," replied the officer. " If it
were not so, I â€” " Here he paused ; and then, as though he
had concluded to say no more, he bowed and took leave.
That night Gardiston House was left to itself in the forest
stillness. " I am glad that bugle is silenced for ever," said
." And yet it was a silvern sound," said Cousin Copeland.
The rains began, and there was no more walking abroad ;
the excitement of the summer and the camp gone, in its place
came the old cares which had been half forgotten. (Care
always waits for a cold or a rainy day.) Could the little house-
hold manage to live â€” ^live with their meager comforts â€” ^until
the next pa)rment of rent came in ? That was the question^
Bitterly, bitteriy poor was the whole Southern country in
those dreary days after the war. The second year was worse
than the first ; for the hopes that had buoyed up the broken
fortunes soon disappeared, and nothing was left. There was
no one to help Gardis Duke, or the hundreds of other women in
like desolate positions. Some of the furniture and ornaments
of the old house might have been sold, could they have been
properly brought forward in New York City, where there were
people with purses to buy such things ; but in the South no
one wanted Chinese images, and there was nothing of intrinsic
value. So the little household lived along, in a spare, pinched
way, until, suddenly, final disaster overtook them : the tenant
of the warehouse gave up his lease, declaring that the old
building was too ruinous for use ; and, as no one succeeded
him, Gardiston House beheld itself face to face with starvation.
" If we wasn*t so old, Pomp and me, Miss Gardis, we could
126 OLD GARDJSTON.
work for yer," said Dinah, with great tears rolling down her
wrinkled cheeks ; " but we's just good for not'ing now."
Cousin Copeland left his manuscripts and wandered aim-
lessly around the garden for a day or two ; then the little man
rose early one morning and walked into the city, with the
hopeful idea of obtaining employment as a clerk. " My hand-
writing is more than ordinarily ornate, I think," he said t(f
himself, with proud confidence.
Reaching the town at last, he walked past the stores sev-
eral times and looked timidly within; he thought perhaps
some one would see him, and come out. But no one came ;
and at last he ventured into a clothing-store, through a grove
of ticketed coats and suspended trousers. The proprietor of
the establishment, a Northern Hebrew whose venture had not
paid very well, heard his modest request, and asked what he
"I can write," said Cousin Copeland, with quiet pride;
and in answer to a sign he climbed up on a tall stool and pro-
ceeded to cover half a sheet of paper in his best style. As he
could not for the moment think of anything else, he wrote
out several paragraphs from the last family document.
*' Richard, the fourth of the name, a descendant on the
maternal side from the most respected and valorous family â€” "
" Oh, we don't care for that kind of writing ; it's old-fash-
ioned," said Mr. Ottenheimer, throwing down the paper, and
waving the applicant toward the door with his fat hand. " I
don't want my books frescoed."
Cousin Copeland retired to the streets again with a new
sensation in his heart. Old-fashioned? Was it old-fash-
ioned ? And even if so, was it any the less a rarely attained
and delicately ornate style of writing ? He could not under-
stand it. Weary with the unaccustomed exercise, he sat
down at last on the steps of a church â€” an old structure whose
spire bore the marks of bomb-shells sent in from the block-
ading fleet outside the bar during those months of dreary
siege â€” and thought he would refresh himself with some fur-
tive mouthfuls of the corn-bread hidden in his pocket for
â€¢* Good morning, sir," said a voice, just as he had drawn
forth his little parcel and was opening it behind the skirt of
his coat. " When did you come in from Gardiston ? "
It was Captain Newell. With the rare courtesy which
comes from a kind heart, he asked no questions regarding the
fatigue and the dust-powdered clothes of the little bachelor,
and took a seat beside him as though a church-step on a city
street was a customary place of meeting.
*' I was about to â€” ^to eat a portion of this corn-bread,"
said Cousin Copeland, hesitatingly ; " will you taste it also ? "
The young officer accepted a share of the repast gravely,
and then Cousin Copeland told his story. He was a simple
soul. 'Miss Margaretta would have made the soldier believe
she had come to town merely for her own lofty amusement or
to buy jewels. It ended, however, in the comfortable eating
of a good dinner at the hotel, and a cigar in Captain Newell's
own room, which was adorned with various personal appli-
ances for comfort that astonished the eyes of the careful little
bachelor, and left him in a maze of vague wonderings. Young
men lived in that way, then, nowadays ? They could do so,
and yet not be persons ofâ€” of irregular habits ?
David Newell persuaded his guest to abandon, for the
present, all idea of obtaining employment in the city. " These
shopkeepers are not capable of appreciating qualifications
such as yours, sir," he said. " Would it not be better to set
about obtaining a new tenant for the warehouse ? "
Cousin Copeland thought it would ; but repairs were
needed, and â€”
" Will you give me the charge of it ? I am in the city all
the time, and I have acquaintances among the Northerners
who are beginning to come down here with a view of engag-
ing in buÂ»ness."
Cousin Copeland gladly relinquished the warehouse, and
then, after an hour's rest, he rode gallantly back to Gardiston
128 OLD GARDISTON.
House on one of the captain's horses ; he explained at some
length that he had been quite a man of mettle in his youth as
regards horse-fleshâ€”" often riding, sir, ten and fifteen miles a
" I will go in for a moment, I think," said the young oflfi-
cer, as they arrived at the old gate.
" Most certainly," said Cousin Copeland cordially ; " Gar-
dis will be delighted to see you."
" Will she ? " said the captain.
Clouds had gathered, a raw wind from the ocean swept
over the land, and fine rain was beginning to fall. The house
seemed dark and damp as the two entered it. Gardis listened
to Cousin Copeland 's detailed little narrative in silence, and
made no comments while he was present ; but when he left
the room for a moment she said abruptly :
" Sir, you will make no repairs, and you will take no steps
toward procuring a tenant for our property in the city. I will